Ukrainian officials say the planned evacuation route to help civilians leave the northeastern city of Sumy, which has experienced sustained Russian attacks and airstrikes in recent days, is now operating.
The corridor is between Sumy and the Ukrainian city of Poltava — a journey of just under 100 miles.
“This route has been agreed by the Ukrainian and Russian sides,” Dmytro Lunin, head of the Poltava regional administration, said on his Telegram channel.
“The ceasefire regime is from 09:00 till 21:00 Kyiv time. Ukraine adheres to it,” he said.
Lunin added that several dozen buses have already left Lokhvytsia, a city southwest of Sumy, to pick up civilians, and that 20 tons of humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, has also been sent.
“We will welcome people, feed them,” Lunin said. “We are evacuating civilians, including foreign students. After they will go to the west of the country. Humanitarian aid should also arrive in Sumy through this humanitarian corridor — food and medicine.”
Some background: The announcement of an evacuation corridor in Sumy comes after a Russian airstrike on an apartment building in the city killed nine civilians, including two children, according to the State Emergency Services (SES) in Ukraine.
On Monday, Ukrainian officials rejected Russia’s unilateral proposal for evacuation corridors for civilians as an unacceptable non-starter, as most of the routes lead to Russia or its staunch ally Belarus and would require people to travel through active areas of fighting.
Several previous attempts to evacuate civilians failed earlier this week, with Western leaders accusing Russian forces of continuing to target pre-approved safe routes.
On Sunday, a Russian strike hit an evacuation crossing point outside Kyiv, killing eight people including two children trying to flee.
Sumy evacuation corridor underway, say Ukrainian authorities